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BUFFALO TRAILS AND TRADING PATHS. It is probable that buffaloes made the first roads over these mountains, and that the Indians, following where they led, made their trading paths by pursuing these highways. It is still more probable that the buffaloes instinctively sought the ways that were levelest and shortest between the best pastures, thus insuring a passage through the lowest gaps and to the richest lands. The same applies to deer, bear and other wild animals-they wanted to go by the easiest routes and to the countries which afforded the best support. It is still said in the mountains that when the first settlers wanted to build a new road they drove a steer or "cow-brute" to the lowest gap in sight and then drove it down on the side the road was to be located, the tracks by it being followed and staked and the road located exact1y on them. The fact that John Strother mentions no paths in the 1799 survey simply indicates that the Indians had not used them for years in the territory north of the ridge between the Nollechucky and the French Broad. No doubt there had been trading paths until the whites came to interrupt their passage over the mountains. But Davenport mentions crossing several on the 1821 survey, viz.: the Cataloochee track at the mouth of Big creek, "the Equeneetly path to Cades cove" at the head of Eagle creek, and at the 60th mile from Pigeon river, in "a low gap at the path of Equeneetly to Tallassee." Seven miles further on they came to another trading path of Cheogee (Cheoah) now known as the Belding trail. At the ninety-third mile they reached "the trading path leading from the Valley Towns to the Overhill Settlements" and reaching the ninety-fifth mile on the path before they paused. On August 24th they passed the white oak, 96th mile, on top of the Unicoi mountain, and on the same day reached the "hickory and rock at the wagon road, the 101st mile, at the end of the Unicoi mountain."

HARD ROADS TO BUILD AS WELL AS TO TRAVEL. Powder was scarce and tools were wanting for the construction of roads in the early days. Dynamite and blasting powder were then unknown. Ridges offered least resistance to the construction of a roadway because the timber on their crests was light and scattered and because, principal consideration, they were generally level enough on top to allow wagon wheels to pass up or down them. But they were frequently too steep even for the overtaxed oxen and horses of that time.<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

Asheville's Centenary.">[1] The level places along creeks and rivers were the next places where roads could be built with least labor; but these were always subject to overflow; and cliffs shutting in on one side always forced the road to cross the stream to get lodgment on the opposite bank. Sometimes there were cliffs on both sides of the stream, and then the road had to run up the nearest "hollow" or cove to the head of the branch flowing in it and across the gap down another branch or brook to the stream from which the road had just parted company. When there was no escape from it, "side-cutting" was resorted to; but as it took a longer road to go by a gentle grade than by a steep climb, the steeper road was invariably built.

"NAVIGATING WAGONS." James M. Edney, in his Sketches of Buncomb Men in Bennett's Chronology of North Carolina, written in 1855 says:

"Col. J. Barnett settled on French Broad seventy years ago, and was the first man to pilot or navigate wagons through Buncombe by putting the two big wheels on the lower side, sometimes pulling, sometimes pushing, and sometimes carrying the wagon, at a charge of five dollars for work and labor done."<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2

The first brakes were made of hickory saplings whose branches were twined around the front axle and bent around the hind wheels; afterwards came "locking chains" attached to the body of wagons and then passed between the spokes of the wheels to retard the vehicle's going down steep grades. Young trees dragged on the road also served at times.">[2]

THE FIRST ROAD BUILDERS. "Most of the work done at the earlier sessions of the county court of Buncombe related to laying out and working roads. These roads or trails, rude and rough, narrow and steep as they were, constituted the only means of communication between the scattered settlers of this new country, and were matters of first importance to its people. They were located by unlettered hunters and farmers, who knew nothing of civil engineering, and were opened by their labor, and could ill afford to spare time from the support and protection of their families. Roving bands of Indians constantly gave annoyance to the white settlers, and frequently where they found the master of the house absent, would frighten the women and children into taking refuge in the woods, and then burn the furniture and destroy the bedding which they found in the house. Many were the privations incident to a life in a new country suffered by these early settlers, and many were the hardships which they underwent at the hands of these predatory savages. We can scarcely wonder that they saw in the red man none of the romantic feature of character which their descendants are so fond of attributing to him. This state of affairs continued even up into the present century.<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3

Asheville's Centenary.">[3]

THE HARD, UNYIELDING ROCKS. Whenever rock ledges and cliffs were encountered our road-builders usually "took to the woods." That is, they went as far around them as was necessary in order to avoid them. But, in some cases, they had to be removed; and then holes were drilled by driving steel-tipped bars with sledge-hammers as far as practicable, which was rarely over two feet in depth. Into these gunpowder costing fifty cents per pound was poured, and a hollow reed or elder tubes filled with powder were thrust, and the earth tamped around these. A line of leaves or straw was laid on the ground a dozen feet or more from the tube, and slowly burnt its way to the powder. It was a slow and ineffective method, and too expensive to be much used. Another and cheaper way was to build log heaps on top of the ledge of rock and allow them to burn till the rock was well heated, when buckets and barrels of water were quickly poured on the rock after removing the fire, which split the rock and permitted its being quarried.

STAGE-COACH CUSTOMS. In old times there were no reserved seats on stage coaches-first come, first served, being the rule. This resulted, oftentimes, in grumbling and disputes, but as a rule all submitted with good grace, the selfish and pushing getting the choice places then as now. Three passengers on each seat were insisted on in all nine passenger coaches, and woe to that poor wight who had to take the middle of the front seat and ride backwards. Seasickness usually overcame him, but there was no redress, unless someone volunteered to change seats. In dry and pleasant weather, many preferred a seat with the driver or on the roof behind him. Many pleasant acquaintances were made on stage coach ourneys, and sometimes friendships and marriages resulted. Stages were never robbed in these mountains, however, as Murrell and his band usually transacted their affairs further west. Heated stones wrapped in rugs and blankets were sometimes taken by ladies during cold weather to keep their feet warm.

OLD TAVERNS. Whenever there was a change of horses which usually happened at or near a tavern or inn, the passengers would get out and visit the "grocery," either to get warm inside or outside, frequently on both sides. Then, they would walk ahead and be taken up when the coach overtook them. When meals were to be taken there was a rush for the "washing place," usually provided with several buckets of cold spring water and tin basins, with roller towels. Then the rush for the dining room and the well-cooked food served there. Most of these meals were prepared on open hearths before glowing beds of coals, in wide fire-places whose stone hearths frequently extended half across the kitchen floor. But riding at night grew very monotonous, and when pos~ the ladies remained at these taverns over night, resuming their journey in the morning.

FIRST ROADS. Boone's trail across the mountains in 1769 was the first of which there is any record, and that seems to be in dispute (see Chapter "Daniel Boone."). The next one was that followed by James Robertson and the sixteen families who left Wake county after Alamance and found their way to the Watauga settlement in Tennessee. They probably followed the Catawba to its head, crossing at the McKinney gap, and followed Bright's trace over the Yellow and thence down to the Doe and So on to the Watauga at Elizabethton.<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4

Roosevelt (Vol. I, 225) records the fact that on his return from his first visit to Watauga, in the fall of 1770, James Robertson lost his way, and for 14 days lived on nuts and berries, and abandoned his horse among impassible precipices. If he followed up the left bank of the Watauga and did not see that the Doe came into the former stream at whit is now Elizabethton, it is easy to see how he followed up the left bank of the latter and got lost amid the precipices of what is now Pardee's Point.">[4] McGee Says: "When the Watauga settlement became Washington county, in 1778, a wagon road was opened across the mountains into the settled parts of North Carolina…and in 1779…Washington county was divided into….Sullivan, etc."<a href="#5" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 5

Roosevelt, Vol.111, pp.97-98.">[5]

The Act of Cession, 1789, calls for the top of the Yellow mountain where "Bright's road crosses the same, thence along the ridge of said mountain between the waters of Doe river and the waters of Rock creek to the place where the road crosses the Iron mountain"; and John Strother, in his diary of the survey of 1799 between North Carolina and Tennessee, mentions that the surveying party crossed "the road leading from Morganton to Jonesborough on Thursday, June 6, 1799." This road was north of the Toe or Nollechucky river and between it and the Bright road over the Yellow; but, as there are now two roads crossing between those points, it is important to ascertain which is the one opened in 1778, as that, undoubtedly, was the first wagon road crossing the mountains. Chancellor John Allison speaks of Andrew Jackson crossing this road from Morganton to Jonesborough, Tenn., in the spring of 1788, as early "as the melting snow and ice made such a trip over the Appalachians possible."<a href="#6" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 6

"Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History," p4">[6] It was "more than one hundred miles, two-thirds of which, at that time, was without a single human habitation along its course." Practically all histories claim that Sevier and his men passed over the Bright Trace over the Yellow; but Col. W. L. Bryan of Boone, N. C., says that Sevier and his men passed through what is now known as the Carver gap, southwest of the Roan, and down Big; Rock creek.<a href="#7" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 7

Letter from Col. W. L. Bryan of Boone to J.P.A., December 3, 1912">[7]
And it does seem more probable that his men would have followed the wagon road, which Historian McGee says had been opened in 1778, from Sycamore Shoals, than a trail which must have taken them considerably further north than a road nearer the Nollechucky river would have been. But all these dates referring to that road were prior to the passing of the first wagon from North Carolina into Tennessee, mentioned in Wheeler 's History of North Carolina as occurring in 1795.<a href="#8" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 8

Asheville's Centenary. Wheeler's History of North Carolina, p.476.">[8]
Indeed, John Strother mentions another "road" at a low gap between the waters of Cove creek (in what is now Watauga county) and Roan creek (in what is now Johnson county, Tenn.); but the road over which the first wagon passed into Tennessee in 1795 was probably the one Bishop Asbury traveled from 1800 to October, 1803, over Paint mountain to Warm Springs; and was not the road on the left side of the river leading down to the mouth of Wolf creek. This road is a mile and a half southwest of Paint Rock. Probably no road at that time followed the river bank there. It is certain, however, that in 1812 Hoodenpile had charge of a road from Warm Springs to Newport, Tenn., and was under contract to keep it in repair from the "top of Hopewell Hill (now Stackhouse) to the Tennessee line."<a href="#9" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 9

Deed Book E., p.121-2, Buncombe.">[9]
William Gillett had built it from Old Newport, Tern., to the North Carolina line.<a href="#10" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 10

Statement of Francis Marion Wells to J. P. A., July 15, 1912. Old Newport is three miles above the present town, the railroad does not pass the former at all.">[10]
It was on the right bank all the way. The Love road leaves the river six miles below the Hot Springs at the Hale Neilson house and joins main road 12 miles from Greenville, Tenn.

PATH CROSSING THE UNAKER MOUNTAIN.<a href="#11" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 11

This must have been a local name for this part of the range, for the real Unaka Mountains are southwest of Little Tennessee River.">[11] John Strother tells us that about the 13th of May, 1799, they came "to the path crossing from Hollow Poplar to the Greasy Cove and met our company." But what kind of a path that was he does not say. It was probably the road through the Indian Grave Gap, near the buffalo trail. For they were close to the Nollechucky river then, and Bishop Asbury's Journal records the fact that on Thursday, November 6, 1800, he crossed Nollechucky at Querton's Ferry, and came to Major Gragg's, 18 miles, arriving at Warm Springs next day. This road crossed the Small and the Great Paint mountains, for he mentions an accident that befell his horse after crossing both. This most probably was the road over which the first wagon passed in 1795 as recorded in Wheeler's history. In November 1802, the good Bishop "grew afraid" of Paint mountain "and with the help of a pine sapling worked my way down the steepest and roughest parts," on his way to Warm Springs where, at William Nelson's, he found that thirty travelers had "dropped in," and where he expounded to them the scripture as found in the "third chapter of Romans as equally applicable to nominal Christians, Indians, Jews and Gentiles."<a href="#12" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 12

This is spelled Neilson">[12]

WHAT NEW ROAD WAS THIS? In October, 1803, he continued to Paint mountain "passing the gap newly made, which makes the road down Paint creek much better."

THE HOODENPYLE ROAD. In December 1812, Bishop Asbury asks "Why should we climb over the desperate Spring and Paint mountains when there is such a fine new road? We came on Tuesday a straight course to Barrett's (Barnett's) dining in the woods on our way." This must have been the Hoodenpyle road from Warm Springs to Newport, Tenn., which he was under contract to keep in order from Hopewell Hill to the Tennessee line. This road follows Paint creek one mile and then crosses the mountains.<a href="#13" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 13

Deed Book E, Buncombe, p.122">[13] He moved to Huntsville Landing on the Tennessee river in the territory of Mississippi, where John Welch of Haywood, agreed to deliver to him on or before the first of May, 1813, 2,667 gallons of "good proof whiskey"; and on or before 14 of August, 1814, 1,500 gallons of the same gloom-dispelling elixir, for value received. No wonder Philip Hoodenpile could play the fiddle with his left hand!<a href="#14" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 14

Ibid., p.121">[14]

SWANNANOA GAP TRAIL. This, doubtless, was the first road into Buncombe from the east, and led from Old Fort in McDowell County to the head of the Swannanoa river and Bee Tree creek where the first settlers stopped about 1782. How long after this it was before a wagon road was built through this gap does not appear; but it is recorded that the Bairds brought their first wagon through Saluda gap, some miles to the southwest, in 1793. Even that, however, at that date was probably only a very poor wagon road. But a wagon road was finally built through the gap Rutherford and his men had passed through in 1776 to subdue the Cherokees.

THE OLD SWANNANOA GAP ROAD.<a href="#15" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 15

Asheville's Centenary">[15] "The old road through this gap did not cross, as it has often been stated to have done, at the place where the Long or Swannanoa Tunnel is. In later years the stage road did cross at that place. But the old road crossed a half a mile further south. To travel it one would not, as in the case of the later road, leave Old Fort and pass up Mill Creek three miles to where Henry station, so long the head of the railroad, stood. He would leave Old Fort and go across the creek directly west for about a mile before going into the mountains. Then he would turn to the right, ascend the mountain, cross it at about one half mile south of Swannanoa tunnel, and thence pass down the mountain until the road joined the later road above Black Mountain station."

BUNCOMBE COUNTY ROADS. In his very admirable work, "Asheville's Centenary" (1898), Dr. F. A. Sondley gives a fine account of the building of the first roads in Buncombe county.' The first of these ran from the Swannanoa river to Davidson river, in what is now Transylvania county, crossing the French Broad below the mouth of Avery's creek, passing Mills river and going up Boydsteens (now improperly pronounced Boilston) creek; the second ran from "the wagon ford on Rims (now called Reems) creek to om the road from Turkey cove, Catawba, to Robert Henton's on Cane river, after passing through Asheville. In July, 1793, the court ordered a road to be laid off from Buncombe court house to the Bull mountain road near Robert Love's. In 1795 a road was ordered to run from the court house to Jonathan McPeter's on Hominy creek; and at a later period two other roads ran out north from Asheville to Beaver Dam and Glenn creek. Then followed the Warm Springs road, Crossing Reems creek at the old Wagoner ford and through the rear of the old Alexander farm, crossing Flat creek" and ran on to the farm of Bedent Smith near the Madison county line, where it turned west and ran to the mouth of Ivy, thence to Marshall "and about one-half mile below that town turned to the east and ran with the old Hopewell turnpike, built by Philip Hoodenpyle later known as the Jewel Hill road, to Warm Springs."

On July 8, 1795, Governor Blount of the territory south of the Ohio river, now called Tennessee, suggested to the council of that territory the opening of a road from Buncombe court house to Tennessee; and Sevier and Taylor were appointed to act with Wear, Cocke, Doherty and Taylor to consider the matter, which resulted in the opening of a road from North Carolina to Tennessee, via Warm Springs, following the right bank of the French Broad to Warm Springs. In 1793 the Bairds "had carried up their four-wheel wagon across the Saluda gap, a road through which had been opened by Col. Earle for South Carolina for $4,000, and is probably the old road from Columbia, which passed through Newberry and Greenville districts," and yet known in upper South Carolina as the old State or Buncombe road. "There was already a road or trail coming from the direction of South Carolina to Asheville," Crossing the Swannanoa at the Gum Spring and known as the "road from Augusta in Georgia to Knoxville." (Record Book 62, p.361.)

THE NEW STOCK ROAD. This road passes through Weaverville, Jupiter, Jewel Hill and through Shelton Laurel in Madison into Tennessee, and was built when Dr. Wm. Askew, who was born in 1832, was a boy, in order to escape the delays of waiting for the French Broad river to subside in times of freshets, and in winter, of avoiding the ice which drifted into the road from the river and sometimes made it impassable. But Bishop Asbury records the fact that on Tuesday, October 25, 1803, in coming from Mr. Nelson's at Warm Springs to Killian's on Beaver Dam, "the road is greatly mended by changing the direction and throwing a bridge over Ivy." This is probably part of the road that runs up Ivy creek from French Broad and crosses Ivy about a mile up stream, and then comes on by Jupiter to Asheville. If so, the New Stock must have started from that bridge across Ivy and run by Jewel Hill to the Tennessee line.

THE BUNCOMBE TURNPIKE.<a href="#16" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 16

From Asheville's Centenary">[16] "In 1824 Asheville received her greatest impetus. In that year the legislature of North Carolina incorporated the now famous but abandoned Buncombe Turnpike road, directing James Patton, Samuel Chunn and George Swain to receive subscriptions "for the purpose of laying out and making a turnpike road from the Saluda Gap, in the county of Buncombe, by way of Smith's, Maryville, Asheville and the Warm Springs, to the Tennessee line." (2 Rev. Stat. of N. C., 418). This great thoroughfare was completed in 1828, and brought a stream of travel through Western North Carolina. All the attacks upon the legality of the act establishing it were overruled by the Supreme court of the State, and Western North Carolina entered through it upon a career of marvelous prosperity, which continued for many years.

ASHEVILLE AND GREENVILLE PLANK ROAD.<a href="#16" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 16

From Asheville's Centenary">[16] "In 1851 the legislature of the State of North Carolina incorporated the Asheville & Greenville Plank Road Company, with authority to that company to occupy and use this turnpike road upon certain prescribed terms. A plank road was constructed over the southern portion of it, or the greater part of it south of Asheville, and contributed yet more to Asheville's prosperity. By the conclusion of the late war, however, this plank road had gone down, and in 1866 the charter of the plank road company was repealed, while the old Buncombe turnpike was suffered to fall into neglect."

ASHEVILLE GETS A START.<a href="#16" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 16

From Asheville's Centenary">[16] From the time of the building of the Buncombe Turnpike road, Asheville began to be a health resort and summering place for the South Carolinians, who have ever since patronized it as such.

THE WATCHESE ROAD. In 1813 a company was organized to lay out a free public road from the Tennessee river to the head of navigation on the Tugabo branch of the Savannah river. It was completed in 1813, and became the great highway from the coast to the Tennessee settlements.<a href="#17" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 17

See chapter on Cherokee Indians.">[17]

FIRST ROADS OVER THE "SMOKIES." John Strother mentions but two roads as crossing the mountains between Virginia and the Pigeon river, that at "a low gap between the waters of Cove creek-in what is now Watauga county-and Roans creek-in what is now Johnson county, Tenn. and that of "the road leading from Morganton to Jonesborough," Tenn., between the Yellow and the Roan.<a href="#18" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 18

Deed Book E, Reg. Deeds, Buncombe county, pp. 122-123">[18]

FIRST ROADS OVER THE UNAKAS. Of the survey in 1821 from the end of the 1799 survey on Big Pigeon to the Georgia line is 116 miles; and yet, as late as 1821 there were but two roads crossing from North Carolina into Tennessee. They were "the Cataloochee track" where the 1799 survey ended and "the wagon road" at the 101st mile post on the Hiwassee river.<a href="#19" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 19

Davenport's Diary quoted in chapter on boundaries">[19]

LITTLE TENNESSEE RIVER ROAD. Just when the wagon road from Tallassee Ford up the Little Tennessee River was first constructed cannot be definitely ascertained. Some sort of a road, probably an Indian trail, may have existed for years before the coming of the whites into that section; but it is not probable, as a road near the river bank is simply impossible, while on the left side of the Little Tennessee is what is now known as the Belding Trail. But this name has only recently been bestowed on an ancient Indian trail which followed the Cheoah river to what is now Johnson post office and then cut across the ridges to Bear creek, passing Dave Orr's house, to Slick Rock creek, and thence down to Tallassee ford and the Hardin farm.

GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT'S MILITARY ROAD. It is probable however, that Gen. Winfield Scott had a military road constructed from Calhoun, his headquarters in Tennessee, up to the junction of the Little Tennessee with the Tuskaseegee at what is now Bushnell; for we know that it was down this road that most of the Cherokees were driven during the Removal of 1838. But it was impossible for this road to follow the river bank beyond the Paine branch, where it left the river and by following that branch, crossed the ridge and returned to the, river again, reaching it at what is now called Fairfax. For it was at the mouth of the Paine branch that Old Charley, the Cherokee, and his family made their break for liberty, and succeeded in escaping in 1838. Beyond Rocky Point, however, it is impossible even for modern engineers, except at a prohibitive cost, to build a road near the river bank, and the consequence has been that the road runs over a series of ridges, which spread off from the end of the Great Smoky range like so many figures, down to the Little Tennessee. Gen. Wool's soldiers built the road from Valleytown to Robbinsville in 1836-7.<a href="#20" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 20

Sketch of Graham County by Rev. Joseph A. Wiggins, February 3, 1912.">[20]

CRUSOE JACK AND JUDGE FAX. There is a tradition that, when the treaty of Tellico in 1789 was made, Crusoe Jack, a mulatto, got a grant to the magnificent Harden farm and that John Harden traded him out of it. Harden worked about fifty slaves on this farm, among whom was Fax, a mulatto, who bought his freedom from John Harden, whose descendants still own this farm, and settled at Fairfax, where Daniel Lester afterwards lived for many years, and where Jeremiah Jenkins afterwards lived and died. Fax was called Judge Fax and kept a public house where he supplied wagoners and other travelers with such accommodations as he could.

OLD WILKESBOROUGH ROADS. The principle road from Wilkesboro passed through Deep gap and went by Boone. The Phillips gap road was made just before the Civil War and after Arthur D. Cole settled on Gap creek and began his extensive business there it was much used. All freight came from Wilkesboro. The turnpike from Patterson over Blowing Rock gap passed down the Watauga liver and Shull's Mills to Valle Crucis, Ward's store, Beech, and Watauga Falls to Cardens' bluff in Tennessee, after which it left the Watauga river and crossed the ridge to Hampton and Doe river, going on to Jonesboro. It was surveyed about 1848 by Col. William Lenoir and built soon afterwards. David J. Farthing and Anderson Cable remember seeing the grading while it was being built, and Alfred Moretz of Deep Gap was present when sections of the road were bid off by residents, the bidding being near the mouth of Beech creek.

THE WESTERN TURNPIKE. In 1848-9 the legislature passed an act to provide for a turnpike road from Salisbury to the line of the State of Georgia. The lands of the Cherokees were later pledged for the building of this "Western Turnpike," as it was officially called, and in 1852-3 another act was passed "to bring into market the lands" so pledged, and this act was later (Ch. 22, Laws 1854-5) supplemented by an act which gave the road the proceeds of the sales of the Cherokee lands in Cherokee, Macon, Jackson and Haywood counties. At the latter session another act was passed making Asheville the eastern terminus and the Tennessee line, near Ducktown, the western terminus of this road, and providing that it should also extend to the Georgia line; but that the latter road should be only a branch of the main road. It also provided that in case the bridge across the French Broad river-presumably Smith's bridge at Asheville-could not be obtained on satisfactory terms, the route of the turnpike might be changed and a new bridge constructed. As this was not probable that satisfactory terms were made for the use of Smith's bridge, as it had been sold to Buncombe county about 1853. When this road reached the Tuckasegee river "the influence of Franklin and Macon county was the principal force which took it across the Cowee and Nantahala mountains<a href="#21" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 21

Capt. James W. Tenell in The Commonwealth, Asheville, June 1, 1893">[21]. The survey was made by an engineer by the name of Fox in 1849. It was completed over the Valley river mountains and Murphy in 1856. The late Nimrod S. Jarrett was chief of construction. Chapter 51, Laws of 1854-5 defined the duties of and powers of turnpike and plankroad companies, and acts incorporating the latter throughout the State passed at that session extend from page 178 to page 216 showing their popularity.

SMITH'S BRIDGE. Long before a bridge had been built across the French Broad at Asheville, Edmund Sams, who had come from the Watauga settlement and settled on the west side of the French Broad at what was later known as the Gaston place about a mile above the mouth of the Swannanoa operated a ferry there. He had been an Indian fighter and later a soldier of the Revolution. He was also for years a trustee of the Newton Academy, and died on the farm of his father-in-law, Thomas Foster, near Biltmore. John Jarrett afterwards lived at the western terminus of the present bridge, keeping the ferry and charging toll. Subsequently he sold it to James M. Smith, who built a toll bridge there, which he maintained till about 1853, when he died, after having sold the bridge to Buncombe County. After this it became a free bridge. In 1881 it was removed to make way for the present iron structure, but its old foundations are yet plainly to be seen.<a href="#22" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 22

Condensed from Asheville's Centenary, 1898.">[22] That old bridge was a single track affair without handrails for a long time before the Civil War, and nothing but log stringers on each side of the roadway. Col. J. C. Smathers of Turnpike remembers when, if a team began to back, there was nothing to prevent a vehicle going over into the river. Chapter 313, Laws, 1883, made it unlawful to drive or ride faster than a walk over the new double-track bridge at Asheville."

CARRIER'S BRIDGE. This was built about 1893, crossing the French Broad at the mouth of the Swannanoa river. It was afterwards sold to the county. Pearson's Bridge, near Riverside Park, was built by Hon. Richmond Pearson about this time, but afterwards taken over by the county. The Concrete bridge below the passenger depot was finished and opened in 1911.

GORMAN'S BRIDGE. This is about five miles below Asheville and was erected long before the war, but was washed away. It was replaced by the present iron structure, about 1900.

THE ANDERSON ROAD. About the year 1858 a road was made from the head of Cade's Cove in Blount county, Tenn., around the Boat mountain to what is now and was probably then the Spence Cabin at Thunderhead mountain. It was finished to this point, in the expectation that a road from the mouth of Chambers creek, below Bushnel, would be built over into the Hazel creek settlement, and thence up the Foster ridge and through the Haw gap to meet it. But North Carolina failed to do its part, and the old Anderson road in a ruinous condition, but still passable for footmen and horsemen, remains a mute witness to somebody's bad faith in the past.

GREAT ROAD ACTIVITY. Between 1848 and 1862, while the late Col. W. H. Thomas was in the legislature, the statute books are full of charters for turnpike and plankroad companies all through the mountains. Many of these roads were not to be new roads but improvements on old roads which were bad; and some of the roads authorized were never built at all. The Jones gap road to Caesar's head, the road from Bakersville to Burnsville, the road from Patterson to Valle Crucis and on to Jonesboro, the road up Cove creek by trade and Zionville to what is now Mountain City, the road over Cataloochee to Newport, the road up Ocona Lufty, the road through Soco gap, the road up Tuckasegee river and the Nantahala, through Red Marble gap, etc., were all chartered during that time. And Col. Thomas was especially interested in the road from Old Valleytown over the Snowbird mountain, via Robbinsville (Junaluska's old home) down the Cheowah river to Rocky Point, where be had built a bridge across the Little Tennessee and was confidently awaiting the approach of the Blue Ridge railroad, which has not arrived yet.

OLD STAGE COACH DAYS. "From Greenville to Greenville" was the watchword when bids were made for the mail lines in those days. Each Greenville was sixty miles from Asheville. The stops between Greenville, S. C. and Asheville were, first, at C. Montgomery's, ten miles north of Greenville, then at Garmany's, twenty miles; then at Col. John Davis', near the State line, where Col. David Vance was taken to die after his duel with Carson in 1827; then at Hendersonville; then at Shufordsville, or Arden, 12 miles, then at Asheville. Col. Ripley sold out to John T. Poole, of Greenville, S.C., about 1855, and he ran hacks till 1865 when Terrell W. Taylor bought him out and continued to run hacks till the Spartanburg & Asheville Railroad reached Tryon, about 1876.

OLD STAGE COACH CONTRACTORS. J. C. Hankins of Greenville, Tenn., used to have the line from that point to Warm Springs, his stages starting out from Greenville nearly opposite the former residence of the late Andrew Johnson, once President of the United States, and whose son, Andrew Johnson, Jr., married Elizabeth, the second daughter of Col. J. H. Rumbough of Hot Springs. He stopped running this line however, when the railroad reached Wolf Creek in 1868. The late Wm. P. Blair of Asheville, who used to run the old Eagle hotel, also ran the stage line from Asheville to Greenville, Tenn., (this was at the beginning of the Civil War) until his stock and coaches were captured by Col. G. W. Kirk. In July, 1866, Col. Rumbough ran the stage line from Greenville Tenn., to Greenville, S. C. The "stands," as the stopping places were called, were breakfast at Warm Springs, dinner at Marshall, supper at Asheville. Owing to the condition of the roads Col. Rumbough cut down the toll gate at Marshall in July, 1866, and the matter was compromised by all him to apply the tolls to keeping the road in condition instead of letting the turnpike company do it.

KEEN COMPETITORS. Col. Rumbough ran the line about a year and a half, when Hon. A. H. Jones, congressman got the contract, but failed to carry it out, and Col. Rumbough took it again.

THE MORGANTON LINE. The stage line from Morganton to the "head of the railroad," as the various stopping place along the line as the road progressed toward Asheville were called, was running many years before the Civil War. After that, the late E. T. Clemmons of Salem came to Asheville and operated the line from Old Fort to Asheville.

THROUGH HICKORY-NUT GAP. In 1834 Bedford Sherrill secured a four years' contract to haul the mails from Salisbury via Lincolnton, Schenek's Cotton mills, and Rutherfordton to Asheville. He moved shortly afterwards to Hickory Nut gap, for years thereafter famous as one of the old taverns of the mountains. Ben Seney of Tennessee succeeded him as mail carrier on this route, but he did not complete his contract, giving it up before the expiration of the four years. Old fashioned Albany stage coaches were used.

HACKS TO MURPHY. As the railroads approached Asheville the hacks and stages were taken off. The late Pinckney Rollins ran a weekly hack line, which carried the mail, from Asheville to Murphy from about 1870, and shortly afterward changed it to a daily line. But he failed at it, and lost much money. The stopping places in 1871 were Turnpike for dinner, Waynesville for supper, where a stop was made till next day. Then to Webster for dinner sad Josh Frank's, two miles east of Franklin, for supper arid night. The third day took the mail through Franklin to Aquone for dinner at Stepp's, at the bridge;<a href="#23" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 23

But from 1872 dinner was taken at Capt. A. R. Munday's.">[23] and to Mrs. Walker's, at Old Valley Town, for supper. The next day the trip was made to Murphy for dinner, and back that night to Old Valley Town. As the railroad progressed toward Waynesville the hacks ran from the various termini to that town.

FROM SALEM TO JONESBOROUGH. As far back as 1840 stages or hacks ran from Salem via Wilkesboro, Jefferson, Creston, through Ambrose gap, Taylorsville, Tenn., to Jonesboro, Tennessee; but they were withdrawn at least ten years before the Civil War, after which Samuel Northington ran a line of hacks from Jefferson to Taylorsville, now Mountain City, Tennessee. Stages were run from Lenoir via Blowing Rock, Shulls Mills and Zionville from 1852 to 1861.

MOONLIGHT AND THE OLD STAGE HORN. In 1828, when "Billy" Vance kept the Warm Springs hotel, old fashioned stage coaches ran between Asheville and Greenville, Tenn., and Greenville, S. C.<a href="#24" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 24

Col. J. H. Rumbough to J. P. A., November 13, 1912.">[24] According to the recollection of Dr. T. A. Allen of Hendersonville, N. C., "the old stage line back in 1840 was operated by the Stocktons of Maryland from Augusta, Ga., "via Greenville, S. C., Asheville, N.C. the Warm Springs and across Paint Mountain to Greenville, Tennessee. "The line from Greenville, S. C., to Greenville, Tenn., was sold to the late Valentine Ripley, who bought it and settled in Hendersonville about 1845." They ran Concord coaches-- sometimes called Albany coaches which were swung on leather braces and carried nine passengers with a boot behind for trunks, and space on top and beside the driver for several additional passengers. The driver was an autocrat, and carried a long tin horn, which he blew as stopping places were approached, to warn the inn-keeper of the number of passengers to be entertained. Nothing was lovelier on a moonlit, frosty night than these sweet notes echoing over hill and dale:

"0, hark, 0, hear, how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
0, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfiand faintly blowing!"

When the railroad was completed to Greenville, S.C., in 1855, Col. Ripley ran stages from Greenville, Tenn., to Greenville, S. C., daily, though in 1853 he had been limited to the run from Greenville, S. C., to Asheville, N. C."<a href="#25" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 25

Dr. T. A. Allen to J. P. A., November 12, 1912.">[25]

JEFFERSON AND WILKESBOROUGH TURNPIKE. In 1901 the Wilkesborough and Jefferson Turnpike company incorporated. (Private Laws, ch. 286) and the road was completed in five years. The State simply furnished the convicts and the stockholders the provisions and the expenses of the guard.

OTHER COUNTIES GET GOOD ROADS. In 1911 Hon. J. H. Dillard secured the passage by the legislature of a road law under which Murphy township is authorized to issue $150,000.00 of six per cent bonds for the improvement of the roads and the four main streets of the town and roads leading into the country. Haywood had already done much for the improvement of its roads, while Watauga has undoubtedly the best roads west of the Blue Ridge, the roads to Blowing Rock, Shull's Mills, Boone, Valle Crucis and Banners Elk and Elk Cross roads being unsurpassed anywhere.

CARVER'S GAP ROAD. Chapter 63 of the Private laws of 1881, amended chapter 72 of Private laws of 1866-67 by allowing John L. Wilder, John E. Toppan and others to build a turnpike from Wilder's forge on Big Rock creek across Roan mountain to Carver's gap on the Tennessee State line; and to make a turnpike from Carver's gap down the valley of Little Rock creek to the ford of said creek at John G. Burlison's dwelling house.

CONVICTS TO MAKE COUNTY ROADS. On the 6th of February, 1893, the Buncombe county commissioners approved a bill which had been introduced in the legislature by Gen. R. B. Vance to use convicts for working county roads, which has proven beneficent, except that negroes and whites are crowded together in too small quarters. Convicts prefer work in the open air to confinement in jails and penitentiaries.

END OF TOLL GATES. On the 5th of September, 1881, the old Buncombe Turnpike company surrendered and the commissioners accepted its charter. The turnpike down the French Broad river having been turned over to the Western North Carolina railroad company for stock in that enterprise in 1869, all that was left to be surrendered was the road the Henderson county line to Asheville, passing through Limestone township. Gradually each county took over one great Western Turnpike from Asheville to Murphy, thus abolishing toll gates along the road, the legislature having authorized this change. There are still toll gates on some roads, but they have been specially authorized by legislative enactment, and are comparatively few, Yonahlossee and Elk Park roads being, of the number.

RIP VAN WINKLE BUNCOMBE. From 1880 to 1896 Asheville had gone ahead by leaps arid bounds, having in that time paved its streets, built electric railroads, hotels and private residence's that are still the pride of all; but the county had stood still. Its old court house, jail and alms house were a reflection on the progress of the times. But in 1896, "Cousin Caney" Brown was elected chairman of the board of county commissioners, and graded a good road from Smith's bridge in the direction of his farm, using the county convicts for the work.<a href="#26" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 26

This was T. Caney Brown.">[26] He had a farm at the end of the road, it is true, and was criticized for building the road; but it was such a well graded thoroughfare and such an object lesson that the people not only forgave him for providing a better road to his home, but all commissioners who have followed him have been afraid not to contribute something to what he began.

MARK L. REED. Profiting by the example set by "Cousin Caney," M. L. Reed spent a lot of good money building other roads which were macadamized, placing good steel bridges over creeks and rivers where they had long been needed, and in replacing the disgraceful old court house by a modern structure, and providing a jail that is ample for the demands of humanity and the times. A decent home was provided for orphan children of the county. The old alms house was given up and better quarters provided for the old and infirm of the county. "Cousin Caney" had set the pace, and soon other good roads and good roads sentiment followed.

BUNCOMBE GOOD ROADS ASSOCIATION. The Good Roads Association of Asheville and Buncombe county was organized March 6, 1899, Dr. C. P. Ambler was the president and B. M. Jones secretary and treasurer. These officers have been continued in their positions ever since. Their object is the construction and improvement of roads. They have succeeded in accomplishing much good, not the least of which are mile posts and sign boards. They raised $5,000.00 to improve the road from Asheville to Biltmore soon after its organization and $550 for the Survey of the "crest of the Blue Ridge highway;" and constructed a horse-back trail to Mitchell's Peak. They are advocating the construction of other highways.

YONAHLOSSEE TURNPIKE. About 1890 the Linville Improvement company was formed, having among its stockholders Mr. S. T. Kelsey, formerly of Highlands, N. C., and before his building of that town, of Kansas. Through his instrumentality, largely, assisted by the Messers. Ravenel and Donald Macrae, the latter of Wilmington, there was constructed the most picturesque and durable highway in the mountains or the State. It begins at Linville City, two miles from Montezuma, Avery county, and runs around the eastern base of Grandfather mountain to Blowing Rock, a distance of twenty miles. It cost about $18,000 complete. It gave an impetus to other road-builders. A road was soon thereafter built from Blowing Rock to Boone, and from Valle Crucis to Banners Elk. There are no finer roads in the State, and built on more difficult ground. In 1912 they were the delight of numerous automobile owners.


  1. Asheville's Centenary.
  2. The first brakes were made of hickory saplings whose branches were twined around the front axle and bent around the hind wheels; afterwards came "locking chains" attached to the body of wagons and then passed between the spokes of the wheels to retard the vehicle's going down steep grades. Young trees dragged on the road also served at times.
  3. Asheville's Centenary.
  4. Roosevelt (Vol. I, 225) records the fact that on his return from his first visit to Watauga, in the fall of 1770, James Robertson lost his way, and for 14 days lived on nuts and berries, and abandoned his horse among impassible precipices. If he followed up the left bank of the Watauga and did not see that the Doe came into the former stream at whit is now Elizabethton, it is easy to see how he followed up the left bank of the latter and got lost amid the precipices of what is now Pardee's Point.
  5. Roosevelt, Vol. III, pp.97-98.
  6. "Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History," p4
  7. Letter from Col. W. L. Bryan of Boone to J.P.A., December 3, 1912
  8. Asheville's Centenary. Wheeler's History of North Carolina, p.476.
  9. Deed Book E., p.121-2, Buncombe.
  10. Statement of Francis Marion Wells to J. P. A., July 15, 1912. Old Newport is three miles above the present town, the railroad does not pass the former at all.
  11. This must have been a local name for this part of the range, for the real Unaka Mountains are southwest of Little Tennessee River.
  12. This is spelled Neilson.
  13. Deed Book E, Buncombe, p.122.
  14. Ibid., p.121.
  15. Asheville's Centenary.
  16. From Asheville's Centenary.
  17. See chapter on Cherokee Indians.
  18. Deed Book E, Reg. Deeds, Buncombe county, pp. 122-123
  19. Davenport's Diary quoted in chapter on boundaries
  20. Sketch of Graham County by Rev. Joseph A. Wiggins, February 3, 1912.
  21. Capt. James W. Tenell in The Commonwealth, Asheville, June 1, 1893
  22. Condensed from Asheville's Centenary, 1898.
  23. But from 1872 dinner was taken at Capt. A. R. Munday's.
  24. Col. J. H. Rumbough to J. P. A., November 13, 1912.
  25. Dr. T. A. Allen to J. P. A., November 12, 1912.
  26. This was T. Caney Brown.